Dr Kate Stevens

Qualifications: BA Honours (University of Otago), Diploma in Language and Culture (University of Otago), PhD (University of Cambridge)

([email protected])

About Kate

My research focuses on comparative and connected histories of cultural, environmental, and economic exchange in the colonial and postcolonial Pacific world.

I am particularly interested in the nexus of gender, race, and colonial rule, and my publications examine women in southern Aotearoa whaling with Prof Angela Wanhalla, gendered experiences of British and French criminal justice in the early colonial Pacific, and the ways in which coconut commodities (copra, oil) connected the Pacific to the global economy with Prof Judy Bennett.

New projects extend my work in these areas, including an environmental and social history of Suva, and tracing the history of smell through oils from the Pacific to Europe.

I am currently completing a book manuscript on Gender, Violence and Criminal Justice in the Colonial Pacific, contracted to Bloomsbury.

Recent funding and awards

- Marsden Fund Fast-Start grant 2021-2024 'Urban Island: Histories of Dispossession and Belonging in Suva'

- Camargo Foundation Fellowship Spring 2021 (postponed to 2022 due to Covid-19) 'De/odorizing history: tracing the terroir of oil and soap from French Polynesia to France'

- University Teaching Excellence Award 2020; Divisional Teaching Award 2020

- WSU Service to Clubs Staff Award 2020

Learn more about my current projects and publications here:


Environmental History; History; Maori History; New Zealand History

Pacific history, colonial history

Recent Publications

  • Wanhalla, A., & Stevens, K. (2021). A ‘class of no political weight’? Interracial marriage, mixed race children and land rights in southern New Zealand, 1840s-1880s. In J. Moses, & J. Woesthoff (Eds.), Intimate Relationships across Boundaries (Vol. 24, pp. 653-673). Routledge.

  • Stevens, K. (2020). Mixed race identities in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. The Journal of Pacific History, 55(3), 437-439. doi:10.1080/00223344.2020.1722336

  • Stevens, K., & Wanhalla, A. (2019). Māori women in Southern New Zealand’s shore-whaling world. RCC Perspectives: Transformations in Environment and Society. New Histories of Pacific Whaling, 5, 23-29. doi:10.5282/rcc/8959 Open Access version:

  • Wanhalla, A., & Stevens, K. (2019). A ‘class of no political weight’? Interracial marriage, mixed race children and land rights in Southern New Zealand, 1840s-1880s. History of the Family, 24(3), 653-673. doi:10.1080/1081602X.2019.1614474 Open Access version:

View all research publications by Kate Stevens

Papers Taught


I am available to supervise research in 19th and 20th century Pacific history, British and French colonial history, gender history, and environmental history.

Current graduate supervision

Carolyn Hill - PhD thesis (co-supervision with chief supervisor Assoc Prof Silvia Serrao-Neumann): Carrying our anchors: new imaginings for historic heritage in Aotearoa

Holly Parker - Masters thesis:  Environmental history of honey bees in Aotearoa New Zealand

Liz Stegen - Masters thesis: Social and cultural history and heritage of 19th century houses in Aotearoa

Completed supervision

HISTY390 Undergraduate research projects: Georgia Palmer, Hanneke Stegen, Xavier Worthington (2020); Dominique Bouwer, Josh Gummer, Jess Tischendorf (2021)

Summer Research Scholarship projects: Ariana Wilson (2020-21)